Source: RNW
Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, enthusiastically welcomed the Nobel Peace Prize award on Friday, describing it as recognisition for years of fighting for democracy in Liberia. The announcement comes just days before Sirleaf seeks re-election Liberia's historic presidential and legislative elections on Tuesday, October 11, 2011.

By Kullie Cornelius, Monrovia

President Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female president, told journalists in Monrovia shortly that she was very excited about winning the award along with fellow Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman.

"I am pleased to have been selected for the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the most important prizes that the world has to offer. I am also humbled by it because so many Liberians have worked for peace in our country. Leymah Gbowee is another recipient of it. She's a well deserving winner because she mobilised the women [market women, church women, professional women] that stood in the rain and the sun to be able to advocate for peace during the time of dictatorship", declared President Sirleaf.

'A heavy price to pay'
According to the Liberian leader, the award "sends a big signal to Liberians that the international community is calling on Liberians to be peaceful [and] to do more for reconciliation".

President Johnson-Sirleaf justified the award as the manifestation of her work over the past decades, emphasising "one has to look at my life story ... to see what I have done. It's not just this election [2011] or 2005 elections. It goes back to the 1980s. I have a paid heavy price here that many people don't realise. I have gone to prison more than once, more than one prison at the time that many people did not know of this struggle, and over the years I have been very consistent about the things I believe in".

'A win for women'
A number of Liberians shared in the president's excitement and described the award as another significant boost to the country and the advancement of Liberian women.

Speaking from the famous Liberian women's peace headquarters on the outskirts of Monrovia, campaigner Cecelia Daniwolie said, "We are the winners, it's not Leymah [Gbowee], it's not the President [Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf], and it is us and the women of Liberia.

Female journalist Ivy Fairley who heads the News and Public Affairs Department of the state radio told RNW that it is great to see two Liberian women winning yet another award. "It means a lot, in a sense that it's like an encouragement that no matter where you are, always know you can move forward regardless of your sex. All you have to do as a woman, you have to be focused, your have to be determined, [and] you have to believe in yourself."

Proud of Africa
Liberian youth Emmanuel Wheinyu joyfully told RNW that he has already posted the news of the award on his facebook page with a titled, "Proud of Africa"- a demonstration in his words to the work of women in peace-building.

A Liberian government spokesman, Deputy Information Minister Norris Tweah said "the government is absolutely ecstatic about the award given to President Sirleaf and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee".

It is very good news for the country. It's means that the work we've done over the last six years toward promoting peace, democracy and gender equity has been recognized", Tweah emphasized.

Incumbent Sirleaf is seeking re-election in a tight race with fellow Harvard University graduate, Winston Tubman, of the main opposition party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). The CDC is also fielding Liberian football legend George Weah as Vice Presidential candidate.

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